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Gaelic: Banbh
Grid reference: NJ688642
Location: 57°40’1"N, 2°31’26"W
Population: 3,991  (2001)
Post town: Banff
Postcode: AB45
Dialling code: 01261
Local Government
Council: Aberdeenshire
Banff and Buchan

Banff is the county town of Banffshire. It stands on Banff Bay and faces the town of Macduff across the estuary of the River Deveron.

The origin of the name "Banff" is uncertain but may be derived from the Scottish Gaelic Banbh or Banbha, a sow, buinne, a stream, or a contraction of Bean-naomh, the holy woman (as is reflected in the town's coat-of-arms).[1] Currently, the languages spoken in the town and in its vicinity tend to be the Doric dialect of Scots, and English.


Banff's first castle was built to repel Viking invaders, and a charter of 1163 AD shows that Malcolm IV was living there at that time. During this period the town was a busy trading centre in the "free hanse" of Northern Scottish burghs, despite not having its own harbour until 1775. The first recorded Sheriff of Banff was Richard de Strathewan in 1264, and in 1372 Royal Burgh status was conferred by King Robert II.[1]

By the 15th century Banff was one of three principal towns exporting salmon to the continent of Europe, along with Aberdeen and Montrose.

Banff and Macduff are separated by the valley of the River Deveron. This unpredictable river was finally tamed by the seven arched bridge completed in 1799 by John Smeaton. An earlier bridge had been built in 1765, but was swept away in 1768. The old ferry was brought back into use, until it was lost in a flood in 1773.


The modern-day town has a golf course (Duff House Royal), beaches, and was home to the Colleonard Sculpture Park before it was relocated to Aviemore.

‘’COAST Festival of the Visual Arts’’ is an annual festival of weekend-long events and attractions in both Banff and Macduff. It runs over the bank holiday weekend at the end of May each year.

The townscape, which is one of the best-preserved in the Highlands, has many historic buildings, including fragments of the former royal Banff Castle, a pre-Reformation market cross, a fine tolbooth, many vernacular townhouses, and a museum donated by Andrew Carnegie.

Close by is Duff House, designed by William Adam in 1730, and one of Scotland's finest classical houses. It is open to the public as an out-station of the National Gallery of Scotland.

Also open to the public are the Wrack Woods, due south of Duff House. In the woods, there is an old ice house, a mausoleum, and a wonderful walk to one of the most beautiful secluded spots in the area. The place is known as the Bridge of Alvah, and a single-arch bridge spans the river Deveron. The river Deveron is known for its great fishing for salmon and trout.

Many of the nearby villages also contribute to tourism in the area; in particular Gardenstown and Pennan. Banff's Tourist Information Centre opens during the summer and can be found by St Mary's car park adjacent to St Mary's Parish Church on Banff's High Street. Their audio tours provide an insight into the town, its history and architecture.

Though no longer a commercial port, the harbour has been subject to redevelopment during the latter half of 2006 and now has a marina which serves leisure traffic and small fishing boats, the newly constructed marina is only accessible +3hrs mlw due to the heavy and rapid silting.

In Canada, Banff has lent its name to the town of Banff in Alberta and to the Banff National Park.


  1. 1.0 1.1 W. Crammond, The Annals of Banff, Vol. 1, Aberdeen, 1891. (retrieved from Google Books)

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